What is 4G?

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Wednesday, 22 April 2009

What are 4G, WiMAX, and LTE?

Now that Sprint has begun airing commercials advertising "Sprint 4G" and Cradlepoint's latest firmware supports a few 4G modems, many people are wondering just what 4G is and how it effects them.

4G is simply a broad generic term for the fourth generation of mobile broadband technologies. There is currently no formal definition of 4G, but goals for 4G technology include creating highly-secure systems capable of providing between 100 Mbit/s and 1 Gbit/s speeds both indoors and outdoors with premium quality. WiMAX, which is still in its infancy but available from Clearwire and Sprint in some areas of the country, is considered a 4G mobile broadband standard, as is LTE (Long Term Evolution), which is being adopted by both Verizon and AT&T.

Eventually, 4G technologies like WiMAX and LTE will replace 3G mobile broadband, just like EVDO and HSPA were improvements over 2G technologies like 1xRTT (AKA "NationalAccess") and EDGE. However, 4G is still quite a ways away from being widely available and it will be several years before 3G technology like EVDO is outdated. 3G providers are still actively working to update their networks to expand 3G coverage, so there is no need to worry about your 3G service and equipment becomning obsolete any time soon.

Right now, 4G is available in just two cities: Baltimore and Portland, via Clearwire's "Clear" WiMAX network. Sprint, who owns a large portion of Clearwire, is re-selling Clearwire's service under the "Sprint 4G" brand name in those cities as well (hence the commercials on TV). For the time being there are not many 4G-compatible products available - just a few modems and the Cradlepoint routers - since coverage and availability is so limited, but as Sprint and Clearwire deploy more 4G networks this will likely expand greatly. LTE, the 4G technology that Verizon and AT&T will eventually offer, is not yet available at all in the USA but may make a limited debut by the end of 2009.

While this site and our retail sister site 3Gstore will continue to focus on 3G technologies, we also operate a site just for 4G news and info: Since 4G technology is still very new there is not yet much to discuss on the subject, but as the technology grows and WiMAX and LTE begin to be available in the US, will do for those technologies what has done for EVDO: provide news, tips, reviews, and a one-stop resource for all things 4G!

Visit our 4G sister sites:

  • - news, rumors, product information
  • - community discussion
  • 4GBlog - news, rumors, and opinion
  • - retail site coming soon!!

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